This past September, President Joe Biden addressed the nation to express his frustration with citizens who choose to remain unvaccinated against Covid-19. In response to this perceived problem, the President announced that he would be unrolling a series of strict workplace mandates to encourage increased rates of vaccination.
Biden’s announcement came as a welcome crackdown for some supporters. CNBC claimed that “most big companies ‘totally support’ Biden’s vaccine mandate,” and a Gallup poll showed that 58% of pollsters supported a proposed mandate that would require workers in companies with over a hundred employees to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
For others, however, the announcement came as a shock. During President Biden’s presidential campaign, he claimed that he would not mandate Covid-19 vaccines.
“No, I don’t think it should me mandatory. I wouldn’t demand that it be mandatory. But I would do everything in my power… Just like I don’t think masks have to made mandatory nationwide. I’ll do everything in my power as President of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing and when they do it, demonstrate that it matters.”In December 2020, President-Eelect Joe Biden answers reporter’s question.
Now it seems, the mandates that would never be are here. As of this week, two federal rules that supersede state law have rolled in. Together, they impact over 100 million American workers.
Under the first rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), companies with 100 or more employees must either ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or that they test negative for Covid-19 once a week.
The major points of the rule, which is set to impact 84 million workers are as follows:
- Companies have until January 4 to comply
- Workers must receive paid time off to get vaccinated
- Employers do not need to pay for unvaccinated employee’s weekly tests
- As of December 5, unvaccinated employees must wear masks while on the job
A second rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services targets health care workers and will affect some 17 million individuals. The main points are as follows:
- Coverage includes health care facilities receiving federal funding via Medicare or Medicaid.
- Employees must be fully vaccinated by January 4.
- No option for weekly testing exists.
- The rule covers all employees – clinical and nonclinical.
In addition to these wide-sweeping rules, in September, President Biden issued an executive order mandating that federal workers and federal contractors need to be vaccinated. The Order did not allow for testing options. Federal workers have until November 22 to comply, whereas the deadline for federal contractors has been extended until January 4.
While Biden’s mandates have spurred some workers into compliance, they have also drawn significant backlash. The attorney general of 27 states filed federal lawsuits challenging the requirement targeting private companies.
“This mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a court filing in the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of 11 states.
His lawsuit was joined by the Republican attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, and Iowa’s Democratic AG Tom Miller.
Several other lawsuits have also risen. Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah joined a suit filed in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Kansas, Kentucky, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia filed suit in the 6th Circuit. Alabama, Florida and Georgia filed suit in the 11th Circuit, and Indiana filed in the Chicago-based 7th Circuit.
As reported by U.S. News, businesses, associations, and religious groups also joined the states’ petitions, with some of the groups filing their own lawsuits against the federal government. The motivations of these groups come in a myriad of forms from objections to the mandate in general to objections to being utilized as an enforcement arm of the government. Underlying all these reactions is a central theme– the federal government has overstepped.
The outcome of these high-stakes legal battles will prove monumental for the everyday American citizen, and for some concerned parents, the results are all the more pressing given the FDA’s recent announcement that it has authorized Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for Emergency use in children aged 5 through 11.
Article by: CJ Fisher